Review: QuickBooks & Intuit Online 401(k)

One of the many benefits of working at RustyBrick is our company matched 401(k) program.

The way we like do things at RustyBrick is by the most efficient method as possible. It is what we do, we design systems to maximize company efficiencies. So when it comes to even our employee HR stuff, which I personally handle all by myself, we try to make it as efficient and seamless as possible. If not, then I'd have to hire an HR person.

We decided to use a product promoted by our accounting software, QuickBooks, named Intuit 401(k). Truth be told, it is actually run and managed by a third-party company, not at Intuit (makers of QuickBooks) named The Online 401(k). Why did we pick this solution? The sole reason was its ability to integrate fully with QuickBooks. I set it up once and it would automatically handle all the 401(k) distributions and company matches each pay cycle, or so I thought.

This is how we set up QuickBooks for everything else. All our customers, time sheets, billing, invoicing, is all integrated via our systems and the QuickBooks API. It just makes sense to reduce double entry, human error and redundancy by automating this stuff. Again, it is what we know.

So I have been using The Online 401(k) for about 2.5 months now and want to share my experience.

Early Experience With The Online 401(k)

When I signed up, my sales representative told me I could submit my first 401(k) distribution mid-February. To be on the safe side, I submitted it the last week of February. I wait the 3 days, plus additional 2 days required for the distributions to be sent to the employees and nothing happened. So I email the The Online 401(k) support and they eventually tell me that my sales representative did not activate it until the first of March.

So I asked the The Online 401(k) folks to please move that date forward a week and pull the distributions. They told me they cannot do so and I need to call Intuit support to back out the 401(k) distributions from the payroll and then reimburse the employees on the next pay cycle. As you can imagine, this create a tremendous amount of MANUAL work, work I wanted to avoid in the first place. I did it, after tons of hold time and transferred departments at Intui - while The Online 401(k) team shoved me off to Intuit as to not deal with me.

A day after I backed out the transactions, I get an email from a supervisor telling me they can now make an exception and back up my date and pull the distributions. I was extremely upset and pretty much told them off.

I figured that was the end of it. The next two distributions went smoothly. I submitted the normal payroll and the 401(k) distributions followed two days after, as it should.

Then last pay period, I decide to check to make sure the The Online 401(k) has been running smoothly and noticed the past two pay periods they did not remove the distributions! I submit an online support ticket to The Online 401(k), they take a day or so to get back to me telling me, yea, it didn't go through. A day or two after, I get an email from Intuit telling me they will call me to help me. Again, The Online 401(k) dumping me off to Intuit.

The guy from Intuit was actually very helpful. He seemed to have been the guy to write up new documentation for The Online 401(k). I told him my frustration with working with The Online 401(k) who had no clue how QuickBooks worked with their own program. He agreed and told me he is working with them to try to educate their staff. He told me they added some features to make the process smoother. But what he told me next was shocking.

Why didn't the past two distributions go through? Because my default browser on the machine running QuickBooks was not Internet Explorer. For The Online 401(k) to get the payroll submission from QuickBooks, they need the default browser to be Internet Explorer (for "security" reasons). No where did I get that warning, plus it stopped working without me changing the default browser, so this must have been a new requirement. Again, no warning.

That is where I stand now. The helpful Intui representative helped me once again push the payroll data to Intuit, which will then go to The Online 401(k) several days later. He promised the distributions that did not go through, pretty much the two paychecks in April, would be pushed through the first week of May. I'll update this post if that is true.

Overall, the smooth, seamless process has been everything but. I do hope this is the last I worry about the 401(k) I set up. I expect that it work without me doing anything - like the sales rep told me. I set it up once and never worry about it again. So far, it has caused me a ton of headache and wasted too much of my time.

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51 COMMENTS

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posted by Kate Smalley on: May 23, 2014 07:42pm

I am terminating my plan also and have to pay a HUGE fee that, to be honest, I didn't catch in the multitude of paperwork I signed upon starting the service. The reason I am canceling is because of another "fee" that grew out of thin air. I feel I made a terrible mistake choosing this service, unfortunately, and now I'm in the process of buying myself out. A thousand dollars out the door that could have been used more productively.

posted by Mary Pablate on: May 19, 2014 03:19pm

Also, reading this page http://usemyreviews.com/quickbooks-basic-payroll-2014-review/ will help a lot.

posted by Dawn on: Mar 29, 2014 12:56am

For anyone considering signing up with The Online 401(k), I would also say run away and don't look back! We are biting the bullet and paying a boatload of fees to close the account because of a multitude of reasons - primarily because that this company seems to be doing its best to make itself customer-proof. Aside from the fact that they will no longer be supported to do direct contributions via Intuit Payroll starting in April, their customer service is nonexistent. The website is painful to navigate and worse yet, that's where they force you to go to get any information or submit questions. Then when you do send in a request, this is the auto-reply you receive: "We received your inquiry and we will respond within six business hours." However, in our experience it's been more like six business DAYS. In fact, our request to terminate the plan was assigned a ticket number, yet no one responded for almost a MONTH - and that's only after I send a follow-up message. To top it off, when they charged us for the balance of the quarterly fees (which I totally understand that we agreed to and knew the fee was coming), however the statement isn't even clear or correct as shows the charge is for the service period of one day. Seriously, I have no idea how this company stays in business and wonder if this is exactly the reason why Intuit is trying to distance themselves - can't say that I blame them!

posted by rik on: Feb 21, 2014 12:47am

Our experience has been horrid. The 5500s that they fill out a you to approve and submit to the Federal Government is NOT, I repeat not checked on any points that I can find. At a minimum not on Safe Harbor. I know I found out years later. That was the start of the nightmare. Their obtuse assistance and wholesale lack of assistance in correcting any of their own many errors feels endless. In spite of them, I accounted and self reported to the Department of Labor the huge mistake they made in each 5500 submission I signed. I then instructed theonline401k to take a huge amount of money from the company account and they did so - immediately. It never ever went into anyone's account as directed in writing and in their website. No ticket got followed up on at all. Our lawyer caused at least one small account to get fixed, we don't know about the others. If there is something deeper going on behind the curtain, I will not surprised. irresponsible on cash in their favor and government filings we pay for ... that might just be incompetence. People with money clearing through them better hope that's the worst of it.

posted by jim on: Jan 5, 2014 03:02am

I have had them for over two years now and am running away. DO not use them. In the managed accounts they have 100% in the same fund. BS the website is confusing and the help is week. To small of a company and they are just there to build the account list as there are not many options. We are going to a Simple IRA through Schwab, no fees and a real broker to assist. I too use QB and that's why we tried it but it NEVER worked.

posted by Bill Guesman on: Dec 29, 2011 05:01pm

Barry, I also picked the Intuit 401k plan as offered through their partnership with Costco.  On paper it all looks like a perfect fit for small companies.  Well my experience so far has been extremely poor.  First I had trouble with e-signing the required documents.  They ended up having to email me the documents so that I could sign them, scan them, and email them back.  The other frustration that I am having is scheduling the 401k Tour.  The first time they didn't send me the webEX information until about 10 minutes after the start.  Because I didn't have any information I had to cancel with our accountant and also my business partner.  Now here we are again, 1 hour before the scheduled tour and I have no WebEx information.  I called the support line, pressed 0 for the operator, she asked if I checked my junk mail, I said yes, she then put me through to the support team and I had to leave a voicemail.  I'm really having 2nd thoughts about this plan.  If this tour doesn't take place without a hitch this time I'm taking my business elsewhere.

posted by JR on: Feb 2, 2012 03:00pm

Unbelievably horrible experience.  I have tried to escalate my issues to both the CEO and CFO (apparently the CFO is in charge of everything???) and can't even get a response.

posted by Andrew on: Feb 2, 2012 10:21pm

Hi, JR!  I'd love to talk to you about this. As the Consumer Ambassador, Our clients have a very large voice here and it's my role to ensure it is heard!  When you have the chance, reach out to me directly at 415.593.5849 or andrew@theonline401k.com.  Looking forward to it!

posted by on: Jul 24, 2012 09:21am

Moncler Piumin, iniziare la conversazione divulgare nessun mistero su chi siete con Ciao, il mio nome è Jim e tu e non ho ancora incontrato. Questo elimina il mistero di chi siete e vi permette di iniziare a parlare di come si può aiutare a risolvere un problema, piuttosto che dover per difetto di un passo di vendite. fdr

posted by Kate Smalley on: May 20, 2013 04:33pm

I was a bit dismayed recently that they raised their rates. I really don't think the product is good enough yet to warrant them raising their rates. Sorry, I still have to do way too much work to make sure my and my employee's 401K payments/deductions go through. It is anything but a seemless process.

posted by Bill White on: Oct 12, 2011 05:33pm

I like this plan quite a bit. It took 15 minutes to signup and then another hour long tour and I was ready to roll. Even though my payroll wasn't integrated (which would have been nice) it takes probably 5 minutes per payroll to administer and I have 7 employees. I give two thumbs up.

posted by Ted on: Sep 21, 2012 03:06am

I wonder if there are recent reports on how 401Online is doing to see if there appears to have been improvement? I'm considering using them

posted by jeff on: Sep 21, 2012 03:10pm

Thank god the service is going to be discontinued so no one else has to sign up for this shitty service. I'm going to contact some of the other users as I believe a class action lawsuit is in order. Probably the most unprofessional service I've ever had to deal with as a business owner, I'm going to sue them on my own.

posted by 401k sponsor on: Sep 22, 2012 04:54am

Although I don't have any experience with the quick books+online401k integration, my recent interaction with online 401k sales person wasn't very comforting. I would have chosen their solution if the sales person didn't come across as condescending as he sounded.

posted by James Gilbert on: Oct 3, 2012 08:35pm

I do not know if this is allowed or welcomed but my company offers the Small Business 401k. Smallbusiness401k.com and we have been providing an easy, low cost online 401k with unlimited no load mutual fund investments for a decade now. Our cost is much less than the Online401k product, and many former clients of theirs have moved their plans to us over the years. You would need to upload payroll information but we designed a speedy way for this to occur. Also you have far more hands-on control and would have been able to start your plan on time and not wait for someone else to flip the switches for you. If you contact us at 800 660 0050 ask for Pam and she will be most helpful. Jim Gilbert, owner.

posted by g on: Mar 2, 2013 09:00pm

I had a very bad experience with theonline401k. Seam like no one takes their job seriously there. Rude people, not willing to listen and help. I called to find out about a $98 charge on my account and never got a clear answer.

posted by JS on: Oct 25, 2012 05:35pm

Barry, how's theonline401k working for you now? I'm about ready to switch my company's current 401k to theonline401k it but my experience to date with their customer service has been pretty awful. My concern is that, if they're this bad now as we're signing up as a new customer, what's the service going to be like for me and my employees in the future.

posted by Prospector on: Nov 5, 2012 01:55am

Very disappointed with this web site. For an online service, the hours of operations are M-F from 8 - 5PM. When you send a message, you get an automatic email saying that a response is available. Guess what - the response that you have is simply the email that you have sent. Be ready to have your requests take days to have a response. It's based out of San Francisco and given the erratic response time, I have a distinct feeling that this site is being maintained by a part time staff. AVOID at all costs.

posted by Dumke Law, LLP on: Nov 9, 2012 08:24pm

They have horrible customer service, hidden fees, and a crap interface. Do not forget the $1000 termination fee that is never mentioned.

posted by Rob Prall on: Dec 3, 2012 08:10pm

Barry, I was doing research on this 401k offering by Intuit and stumbled across your website and this blog. Have you worked through your plan issues? I own a registered investment advisor that specializes in retirement plans such as 401(k). We work with several online plan providers such as The Online 401(k). I am somewhat familiar with their operations. From what I can tell you and several people on this blog are experiencing a version of the same problem which is 401(k) plans are neither simple or easy to administer. Most of the online plan providers such as Online 401(k)) do a great job of offer a low cost solution for providing a retirement plan. However, they generally do not have the support team that a much higher cost solution may offer. This is not a bad thing if you have the expertise to fully appreciate what they are offering. Unfortunately, without years of experience in managing plans most people will simply lack the knowledge to anticpate all the details of a plan. This can easily create a perception of poor customer service. In fact, as a rule in our office, rookie advisers are to partner with a more knowledgeable advisor or stay away from online solutions until they know what they are doing. I would be happy to discuss further with you or anyone else on this blog. You may reach me at Rob@Rxinvestments.com

posted by JC in Bama on: Dec 19, 2012 05:53pm

BIG WASTE OF TIME AND EFFORT FOR A CUT RATE PRODUCT. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! I don't have time to go into great details but this was a HUGE mistake to go with the Online 401k. They discontinued their automated integration with Quickbooks online and that was a huge benefit for my company. Pay a little more and get a company that has a clear history of customer service.

posted by Barry Schwartz on: May 22, 2013 05:07pm

Overall, now I am happy. They no longer have a partnership with QB but they took my advice and used the QB API to build a more streamlined interface. It works pretty well.

posted by Daraius on: May 22, 2013 05:05pm

I am considering using Online401k via Costco which provides some discounted rates. Just had a conversation with one of their reps and an online demo. It sure looks extremely simple to log in and provide them the necessary info every pay period. Was also told that Rusty Brick is still their client. They said the online tools were completely revamped early this year and they have changed their customer service to have a specific acct rep for each client. Would be keen hear some specifics about recent problems (or not). Every comment here seems negative, and I would like to know what I am getting into. If someone is willing to chat with me on the phone as a reference I would greatly appreciate it.

posted by Daraius on: Jul 26, 2013 06:35am

After Barry confirmed a more positive experience lately, I signed up with them for my business (6 employees). And made it past the first payroll. It has been very easy and smooth. The 'online everything' is great. The support has been excellent also, but we have needed very little. Initial signup took literally 15 mins. Then each employee enrolled themselves and setup their withholding options. 100% paperless system. From now on - at every payroll I have to go their website and enter the employee withholdings and company match. If the next pay period is identical it is one click. Annual cost is very reasonable (via Costco). Will report back if I have anything negative to say, but so far I am pleased. Daraius

posted by jeff gainey on: Aug 11, 2013 01:38am

DO NOT SIGN UP WITH INTUIT 401k. I have a small business and everything sounded great, nice sales pitch. The past 2 years have been a nightmare and my wife who handles payroll on the weekends has pulled out most of her hair I do believe. They have had virtually NO customer service and are located on the west coast with a 3 hour time difference which has caused additional headaches. The plan is not seamless and my wife is now having to enter more work, and get this, they just upped our monthly fee. Hmmm!!! what is wrong with this picture? Now to the good part-----the choice of funds is extremely scarce and my 401k is loosing money most months. No great funds to choose from. NOT ONE!!! We have just gone through months of growth opportunities and I totally missed it. I am moving my 401k this week. Jeff Gainey, President PRIMO, Inc.

posted by Anu Sanghvi on: Apr 28, 2011 10:42pm

Barry, I’m very sorry to hear about your experience with Intuit 401(k). We are relatively new in the market with this offering, and it is feedback like yours that allows us to improve the service for everyone. Thomas (our support representative) had already brought up your concerns with the team, and we do have a plan in place to fix the issues you are mentioning. Sorry that you had to go through so much trouble to get going. I would be very interested to know how the service works for you going forward. Please feel free to ping me any time at anu_sanghvi@intuit.com (product management, Intuit).

posted by Sluther93 on: Apr 5, 2012 04:46pm

Do not sign up for intuit 401K.  This is a rip-off.  They will take your money each month and not refund your money.  You will have to cancel your bank account to get rid of these people.

posted by Andrew on: Apr 5, 2012 05:00pm

That definitely sounds like a bad experience!  Would you have the chance to go over some of the specifics with me?  It doesn't sound like the normal process of things at the Intuit401(k).  Drop me an e-mail or give me a call when you get the chance to talk further!  andrew@theonline401k.com or 415-593-5849

posted by Gavin on: Apr 24, 2012 08:38pm

Hi Barry,  I'm considering this for our small business, but reading through these replies and your thread makes me leery. Now that you are roughly a year in what are your thoughts? Would you do it again if you had the option? Thanks

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Apr 24, 2012 08:43pm

Good question. I am not sure. There is zero personal touch but now it runs by itself.

posted by Andrew on: May 9, 2012 03:56pm

Hey, Greg! It sounds like you've been through some tough times with this. It's certainly not a standard The Online 401(k) lives by. It's my job to make sure the client's voice is heard internally and you've certainly been heard. Are you up for a time to speak further on this? I'm sure I can help resolve some of the discomfort in the short term and find out a way to avoid this type of thing happening to anyone else. When you get the chance, drop me an e-mail and we can get on the phone to speak further with what has happened and how to get this fixed asap! Andrew, andrew@theonline401k.com

posted by greg on: May 9, 2012 12:55pm

I am right in the middle of a HORRIBLE experience with Online401k.com or the Intuit 401K. It has me so angry I cant see straight. I signed up in Feb. It is now May, and after three months have had it with these guys. Be forewarned... Online401k.com is NOT Intuit! They are NOT Costco! They are NOT Morningstar. I have had many many issues, but the biggest frustration is their customer service. It is some of the worst I have seen in a long long time. They refuse to give me contact info for any specific person and force me to submit any communication thru their web message service. I call up and speak to supposedly someone important, but then what I am told is ignored and forgotten. I am forced to eMail support@theonline401k.com, but it then takes 10-24 hrs to get a response. As a steward of my employees money, there is NO WAY I trust Online401k.com or Intuit 401k with our retirement after all this. All my confidence is lost and I want out. The rub is they are saying that if I leave, they are going to hit me with almost $2500.00 in penalties. Can they be serious!?!?!? I have been forced to hire an attorney to see what my options are. I cant believe that in an effort to try to save a little bit of money for my retirement, I am now in a situation where I have to pay a lawyer a retainer for almost as much as I have personally contributed into my plan. I have also engaged in dialogue with their parent company Costco as well as Intuit. Costco takes customer service issues very seriously and I know they will help resolve this. All I want is to walk away from this disaster...

posted by 401kay on: Jun 1, 2012 04:10pm

As I read through the comments and feedback it seems that the biggest challenge many of those with a negative experience is the belief that sponsoring a 401k plan is easy and something you can decide to have one day, then not have the next. It's not easy, and employers are supposed to enter into it with an intent for it to be permanent. It should never be implemented for a one-time reduction in your personal tax liability. The best you will get there is an IRA. The laws are the laws, and they aren't any 401(k) provider's fault. A 401(k) plan is one of the most difficult tax-advantaged benefit plans to administer. The laws governing them are complex. Unless a small business owner is willing to make employer match to all of their eligibile employees, refunds are highly likely. The Online 401(k)'s sin may be setting a false expectation that sponsoring a 401(k) plan is easy. For those who implement one thinking it's a no brainer and can be done 100% on a smart phone - try reading the Internal Revenue Code or ERISA, just a few chapters. Don't blame providers for the complexity, blame the business owners trying to circumvent the laws, which make the government write more laws.

posted by Skeeter Valentine on: Jun 5, 2011 03:57am

I use the Intuit 401(k) and it's working pretty well. No issues to date. Sales process was smooth and no issues with the payroll integration either. Too bad it's been a bit rough for you but I'm finding it pretty easy to use so far. Great fund returns since I started as well!

posted by Tina on: May 18, 2011 09:47pm

Thanks! You've saved me a ton of frustration. I was just looking over a proposal from them. What version of quickbooks are you using? Are you using online or desktop payroll and are you still having problems?

posted by Barry Schwartz on: May 18, 2011 09:48pm

desktop, latest version. i think it works now after a lot of frustration .

posted by rick o'connor on: Jun 1, 2011 05:00pm

Curious since a month has now passed if the 401k headaches are now a thing of the past? We received a proposal from them as well...and were about two clicks from completing their online subscription when I found this article. Curios if the issues have been addressed before we make the jump...

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Jun 1, 2011 05:07pm

The support is much better but I am still having issue after issue sending the payroll data to them and thus the employee's funds are not being deposited timely. But they are working on it. :)

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Jun 3, 2011 08:35pm

Just to give you all another update.  I spent another hour + on the phone with Intuit.  Data is still not flowing properly.  I am not sure why and neither are they but they promised to work on it. So I guess I am debugging this all for everyone else. 

posted by Adam on: Sep 1, 2011 02:57am

I have had the same problems as others.  Intuit 401(k) promises to have a seamless integration with Intuit online, but I have not been able to set it up after 2 months of fruitless emails and posts to their track it system.  I originally signed up with them in late June.  After I went through their training, they said it would automatically pull in my employee's information from Intuit online.  That there would be a link.  I first emailed them on July 18th that there was not link, the response was that it was Intuit Online Payroll's problem.  I contacted IOP, they told me it was Intuit 401(k)'s issue.  After the first response to me, they next time they posted a reply was on August 5th and told me again that it was IOP's problem.  And after that nothing....  I would not trust them to manage money if they can't even get me set up and have horrible customer service.  I wish that I had seen this blog before I signed up with them.

posted by Anu Sanghvi on: Sep 1, 2011 04:32am

Mike - I am very sorry to hear of the problems you are having with Intuit 401(k). Can you please email me at anu_sanghvi@intuit.com so we can find a time to talk? I apologize that this has been a frustrating experience for you. I would really like to understand your experience better so I can get this straightened out for you.

posted by Anu Sanghvi on: Sep 1, 2011 04:43am

Adam - I apologize for the trouble you have experienced. As difficult as it is to read your comments, your situation highlights that we have work to do to make sure both sides of our service are communicating more effectively so you are not stuck in the middle. I really would like to fix this for you. Can you please email me at anu_sanghvi@intuit.com so I can get your company details to resolve this matter for you?

posted by IRA vs 401k on: Aug 23, 2011 09:26am

I like this article! Will come again next time for sure, thank again

posted by Mike on: Aug 27, 2011 12:16am

I am in the midst of dealing with this incredible scam from Intuit.  They have completely misled me (lied) to me about the 401k being integrated with payroll.  I'm over 2 months into this process.When asking them about why I was being trained on "The Online 401k" as requirement for intuit 401k, They told me they'd get back to me.  Then when I forced their hand, they finally told me the systems were not integrated.  Now I do not even know where the money is that was shown as deducted in Intuit Payroll.  Total disaster.  Worse part of it is that I will now have transition again to another payroll company.  Another 80 hour endeavor.  freakin Great.. Exactly what I was trying to avoid.  Biggest nightmare experience ever with so called "reputable" company.

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Oct 10, 2011 09:02pm

Umm, it works now. But took forever. Let me know how it goes for you.

posted by Farrah on: Oct 10, 2011 09:01pm

Hi Barry, has your satisfaction level increased at all? I'm just about to sign up with theonline401k....

posted by Jenica on: Dec 15, 2011 12:51am

Thanks for your post on this topic. I was considering signing up for the Intuit 401(k) but your experience has cautioned me to do otherwise. Thanks for sharing. Please do post an update if you notice a significant improvement. Perhaps you've debugged it for all of, as you said?

posted by Guinevere75 on: Oct 28, 2011 07:11pm

Hmmm.... I am currently considering these guys or ADP's version.  We use ADP for payroll, and I was actually keen on using Intuit because I liked their fund options better - but this thread scares the piss out of me.  I've used ADP 401k in the pass and not had a single issue - I may need to just stay the course.

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posted by on: Dec 4, 2013 08:34pm

I, too, had a horrible experience with TheOnline401k. They repeatedly screwed up transactions and took months longer to get things working than they'd told me during their sales process. I highly recommend staying away from them.